Monday, October 11, 2010

Things I Heart About Turkey

In no particular order.

  • Fresh fruits and vegetables.  A kilo of tomatoes for about 90 cents?  Oh, if you insist...
  • Dessert, although this explains why my Marine Ball dress doesn't fit anymore.
  • Cafe culture.  Sitting at a place for three hours, sipping your tea and reading a book.  Why not?
  • Location.  I hate to refer to the trope of "a bridge between East and West," but if nothing else, Istanbul's close to everything interesting - like a three-hour flight close.
  • People.  Very friendly and open.  There's some element of sketch with some men, but where in the world is that not the case?
  • Diversity.  There's not the range of skin colors that you see in the US, but Turkey is incredibly diverse, and everyone knows from where their forefathers came.  My cab driver the other day told me about how his grandparents fled Macedonia during a war and came to Turkey.  Other of my friends talk casually about their home town in Spain - which their family left 500+ years ago.
  • Visitors.  Any time one of my friends manages to end up within two time zones of me, I can expect a visit.  I love it!
  • Politics.  Turkey is crucial to US foreign policy in a lot of ways, which makes my job interesting.  Moreover, Turkish society energetically discusses its own internal politics, and every issue has at least three sides to it here.  It keeps my mind hopping.
  • Conspiracy theories.  God, I love them.  There ought to be a prize for the craziest one each month.
  • Turkish fashion.  Okay, it's really just broader European fashion, but I am continually amazed at what I see walking by me on the street or in the Metro.  Really, ladies?
  • Makeout Alley - the sidewalk from the Metro to my apartment building, which is always crammed with couples snuggling, smoking, fighting, drinking, making out, and texting.  Usually simultaneously.
  • Turkish drivers.  Okay, traffic is insane here, and traffic laws are more suggestions than diktats, but I kind of enjoy seeing the rules that emerge organically in this barely controlled chaos of taxis, minibusses, and scooters.  
  • Expat get-togethers.  Strange to say, but I do enjoy meeting up with other yabancılar and kvetching.  It's a little bit of home, although home normally isn't quite so chock-full of Aussies and Brits.


  1. I flew into Istanbul on October 3rd, and stayed for a couple of days before touring Greece. While I was waiting in the passport line, I heard someone paging "Miss Hannah" over the intercom and it made me laugh. I realize that probably wasn't you, but you're the only "Hannah" I'm aware of in Turkey, so it was a funny coincidence. I enjoyed my visit - I found Istanbul chaotic and intriguing. I'm jealous that you get to live there for a while!

  2. The only ex-pats I've met from other countries are the ones living in my neighborhood. It's not very common to hang out with ex-pats of other countries in Costa Rica.

  3. Whoops - edit - landed in Istanbul on October 1st!

  4. glad you're enjoying yourself!
    how is your turkish? Do you feel like it's getting stronger all the time, being immersed or slipping away because of socializing in english? I've heard a few times that languages often don't strengthen at post because of this. What do you think?

  5. @SCGirl - ha! Wasn't me, as far as I know... I hope you enjoyed it here! How did you find Greece?

    @Sara - the expat life gets a lot of grief in some places, but I rather like the English-speaking social groups I've found in various places. However, the San Jose expat scene is so heavily American, from what I remember (2001 visit) that it may be hard to find the Brits...

    @Eve - my Turkish has taken a definite hit since I've been here. Most of my contacts don't speak Turkish as a first language, so either we communicate in bilaterally broken Turkish or English (or, in a few cases, Arabic). Frustrating, but what can you do?